Benjamin Culff

MSc Video Game Enterprise, Production And Design

Ben grew up playing video games. After being struck by cardiac arrest at a young age, he became determined to be successful and turn his hobby into a career. After succeeding in his studies, Ben landed himself a placement and graduate job at game development company, Lab42.

“When I was in sixth form, I collapsed from a cardiac arrest whilst working at my part-time job. Luckily, I’m in good health now and have been since, but this experience led me to think hard about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, however long that would be. It put life into perspective for me and made me realise that I wanted to pursue something that I’d enjoy.

When I was younger, I loved playing Minecraft. With its open world and endless possibilities, I could be as creative as I wanted. I knew I’d enjoy a career in video game design and that my best chance of getting there was going to university.

BCU stood out to me because it offered a two-year undergraduate course, meaning I would finish my degree and have my master’s under my belt by the age of 21, unlike others my age who would be in the final year of their undergraduate degree. I wanted to fast-track myself into the video games industry, and BCU was the place to do it.

I also spoke to the health and safety team about my condition after my cardiac arrest, and I was pleased to hear that they already had defibrillators on-site and were very accommodating to my needs. Immediately, I felt supported and reassured that I’d made the right choice by choosing BCU.

The experienced team of lecturers at BCU have many years of industry experience between them, which was priceless to us as students. Their industry connections lead to end-of-year showcases, where students can present the games that they make during the academic year to industry.

To prepare for this, our modules would focus on presenting our work and learning to share our ideas clearly, which grew my confidence and gave me the skills I needed to communicate my ideas in the workplace. There’s a lot of collaboration on the master’s course with students across the university. I worked with students on computing courses, art courses and many more. This is something I enjoyed about the postgraduate degree, as it gave me an insight into what it’s like in industry. Working collaboratively with different departments is something I do every day at work, and studying at BCU taught me how to do this effectively to produce a great final result.

The lecturing team also use their industry connections to set up interviews with companies who are looking to employ graduates. I was able to complete a placement at Lab42 as my final module. When I finished the placement, the company offered me a full-time position as a Junior Level Designer. As the work was similar to what I’d been doing on placement, it gave me a smooth transition from university into my career.

I’ve since been promoted to Level Designer and I’m working on some exciting projects that are yet to be finished, but my first published piece, Human Fall Flat, was actually something I worked on during my placement. I was so proud to see my name in the credits and know that the work I did on it was before I had even graduated from BCU.

I often search YouTube for games that I've worked on and see people's reactions to them and how they play them. It’s really rewarding and interesting to see how people play and enjoy my creations. I’m incredibly lucky that something that was once a hobby is now my job.

To me, ‘I AM BCU’ means being a part of one of the most diverse universities in one of the most diverse cities in the country, where unique characters are formed to change the world for the better."